Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., September 16, 2021

Gartner HR Research Reveals Connector Managers Are Key to Driving Sustainable Performance in Today’s New Work Environment

Gartner Experts Discuss the Next Generation of Managers at the Virtual Gartner ReimagineHR EMEA Conference 2021, September 16-17

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, Connector managers are critical to helping organizations achieve long-term success, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner experts explained that organizations that are most successful at developing their employees have focused on cultivating Connector managers, who are able to connect employees to the right people and resources at the right time.

Key issues facing HR leaders are being discussed at the Gartner ReimagineHR conference, taking place virtually in EMEA, today through tomorrow.

Gartner research found that three major tectonic shifts are adding layers of complexity for managers:

  • Growing number of business disruptions, many based on postpandemic work reaities: Managers need to support their employees through frequent business and organizational pivots.
  • Proliferation of skills across functions and roles: Gartner research shows the total number of skills required for a single job is increasing at 6% annually; many managers will not be the experts in the skills their employees need.
  • New employee values: Employees no longer want the traditional employment value proposition, instead they want a more human deal with their employers where they are recognized as people, not just workers.

“Managers play a critical role in supporting employees, but today they are experiencing a confidence crisis,” said Jaime Roca, senior vice president in the Gartner HR practice. “Delivering as a manager in the current and future work environment will require a different way of managing for many.”

A Gartner survey of 4,787 employees in September 2020 revealed only 34% of employees agree that their manager is an expert in the skills employees need to be successful in their job. Another Gartner survey of more than 2,400 knowledge workers in January 2021 found that 68% of HR leaders believe managers are overwhelmed.

“Organizations need managers who can drive sustainable performance – enabling their employees’ individual performance, while contributing positively to others’ performance and without compromising their health,” said Sari Wilde, managing vice president in the Gartner HR practice.

Gartner research reveals that sustainable performers are 17% more productive and 1.7 times more likely to stay at their organizations than other employees. 

“Our research shows that by providing better support to their employees in their day-to-day tasks – and helping them grow their future career potential – Connector managers can boost employee performance by as much as 45% and improve other employee outcomes, including efficiency, skills preparedness, inclusion and intent to stay with their employer,” said Roca.

Connector managers succeed in building sustainable performers by making three connections for their employees:

The Employee Connection

The employee connection is the foundation for all three connections.

Connector managers enable deeper connections with their employees by focusing on understanding employees’ strengths, development areas, motivations and interests by asking questions designed to lead to action. These questions equip coaches and managers to go beyond an employee’s current role and job trajectory and delve into desired personal growth. Connector managers further build trust by being transparent about the challenges they are facing, encouraging their employees to share their challenges, and then working together to manage those challenges.

The Team Connection

In times of disruption, the connections that matter most are those with the immediate teams.

Connectors build successful teams by regularly assessing and monitoring their team’s health and cohesion. They build a foundation of psychological safety that creates trust, so that employees are invested in each other’s well-being and success, not just their own. Connectors also empower employees to own their actions and interactions with colleagues; they realize that managers should not be solely responsible for team dynamics.

The Organization Connection

Connector managers provide coaching, feedback, and role modeling when they have the right skills, expertise or background. However, Connector managers know when they need to bring in other individuals to make the right connections for their employees.

To start, managers should build a connections map, where they identify the individuals in their network from whom their direct reports can learn. Connector managers then help their employees connect to the right individuals and opportunities and take an active role to ensure the employee is learning, applying and growing from those connections.


About the Gartner ReimagineHR Conference

Gartner experts will further discuss key workplace issues during the virtual Gartner ReimagineHR Conference. This conference brings together a community of trailblazers, thought leaders and industry experts pushing the bounds of human resources. CHROs and HR leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering talent acquisition, diversity, equity and inclusion, learning and development, total rewards, talent analytics, and HR technology. Follow news and updates from these events on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.

Upcoming dates and locations for the next Gartner ReimagineHR Conference are November 8-10, Americas, virtual.

About the Gartner HR Practice

The Gartner HR practice brings together the best relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at Follow news and updates from the Gartner HR practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit